GMO news related to the United States

04.10.2017

Are GMO Pesticides Supertoxins? A New Analysis Raises Questions of Food and Environmental Safety

The chief benefit claimed for GMO pesticidal Bt crops is that, unlike conventional pesticides, their toxicity is limited to a few insect species. Our new peer-reviewed analysis systematically compares GMO and ancestral Bt proteins and shows that many of the elements contributing to this narrow toxicity have been removed by GMO developers in the process of inserting Bt toxins into crops. Thus, developers have made GMO pesticides that, in the words of one Monsanto patent, are “super toxins”. We additionally conclude that references to any GMO Bt toxins being “natural” are incorrect and scientifically unsupportable.

New Publication Title: The Distinct Properties of Natural and GM Cry Insecticidal Proteins

Authors: Jonathan R. Latham, Madeleine Love & Angelika Hilbeck (2017), in Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering Reviews, 33:1, 62-96,

DOI: 10.1080/02648725.2017.1357295.

Available online at: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02648725.2017.1357295

15.09.2017

Osage farmer grows non-GMO beans

OSAGE | “I am not mainstream, I am more in the process of growing food,” said Mike Lewis, who farms southeast of Osage. “All my stuff is non-GMO.”

Lewis, an Osage High School and a 1980 Iowa State University with a degree in farm operations, recognizes he has to deal with problems GMO farmers don’t have, but he also acknowledges the production of his food-grade soybeans brings a premium price, which overshadows some of the challenges he faces.

Thirty years ago, Lewis began a limited planting of the food-grade soybeans. Ten years later, he turned to full production of the soybeans.

01.09.2017

GMA: GMO labeling should apply to highly refined oils, sweeteners

If consumers are to believe that the food industry is serious about transparency, highly refined oils and sweeteners derived from GM crops must be included in the new bioengineered food standard (the federal GMO labeling law), even if they are indistinguishable from their non-engineered counterparts, says the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA).

01.09.2017

Court Documents Reveal Monsanto Edited “Independent” Scientific Review

In March 2015, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) reported that glyphosate, the main herbicide in Roundup, was “probably carcinogenic to humans.” Later, on July 7, 2017, the California state Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) named glyphosate as a chemical that can cause cancer and added it to the state’s list of dangerous substances. This requires Roundup manufacturer Monsanto to add new warnings to the product label for sales in the state of California, but they have taken the issue to court, claiming that the change is unwarranted.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people have filed Roundup lawsuits against the company, claiming that after long-term exposure to the herbicide, they developed cancer and other serious injuries. Now, documents uncovered in discovery suggest that Monsanto may have manipulated evidence concerning glyphosate and its risks to human health.

Monsanto Hired Help to Rebut the IARC’s Conclusions

01.09.2017

Human Embryo Editing Study Shows We Still Have a Lot to Learn About CRISPR

The first human embryos edited in the U.S. appear to have had a faulty gene repaired—but now a debate is raging as to what actually happened.

In late July, MIT Technology Review broke the story about the work, in which researchers edited about 150 early-stage embryos using the CRISPR gene-editing technique. In the subsequent paper published in Nature, the team revealed that it was able to successfully eliminate a genetic mutation that causes a deadly heart condition. Importantly, the results suggested the edits occurred with a far higher level of precision than anyone else had managed before in embryos. One of the study's authors, Shoukhrat Mitalipov, talked of clinical trials being near at hand.

But questions have emerged this week about how, exactly, the faulty gene was removed. The authors of the original study claim the gene was repaired as CRISPR cut out only the faulty DNA, which was on the paternal side, then used normal maternal DNA as a template to correct the mutation—a previously unknown phenomenon. (Watch our CRISPR explainer)

On Monday, a different group of researchers called this account into question in a paper posted on bioRxiv. They pointed out that Mitalipov's team only showed that the faulty gene is absent from embryos after editing, not that the gene had been repaired. What's more, paternal and maternal DNA are still distinct in the embryos the team was using. So how could the two have interacted?

Instead, the cross-examiners suggest—and many have subsequently agreed—that it's possible that CRISPR could have been making much larger deletions of the embryos' DNA. If that's true, then the faulty gene would fail to show up when Mitalipov's team went looking for it, but the embryos could have a great deal of genetic damage besides. Without ruling out this possibility—or else figuring out another way to avoid so-called "off-target" effects—it would be irresponsible to suggest that CRISPR-edited embryos be implanted and allowed to grow into children.

18.08.2017

CRISPR Co-Discoverer: "I've Never Seen Science Move at the Pace It's Moving Now"

IN BRIEF: CRISPR co-discoverer Jennifer Doudna stressed the importance of using the technology with proper consideration at CrisprCon this week.

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“It was a convenience item for farmers,” observed organic farmer Tom Wiley at the convention, according to Wired. “And a profit center for corporations.” To combat genetically modified food’s perception problem, companies using CRISPR will have to make sure that the technology benefits the consumer, not just the production process.

The convention addressed CRISPR usage in many different fields: from the importance of ensuring it is used to address the widest range of medical conditions as possible, to the potentially damaging effects of gene drives on a delicate ecosystem.

Science is moving at a rapid pace, and CRISPR is too — but if we don’t carefully consider which applications are safe and valid, it could quickly cause as many problems as it solves.

18.08.2017

No dicamba in '18, Arkansas weed expert urges

MORRILTON -- A weed scientist said Thursday that he couldn't recommend that dicamba be allowed in the state next year after recent tests in at least four states show the herbicide's tendency to move off target and damage other crops and vegetation.

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BASF's Engenia, Monsanto's Xtendimax with VaporGrip and DuPont's FeXapan are three dicamba herbicides allowed this year by the federal Environmental Protection Agency for in-crop use, although Engenia is the only one of the three allowed in Arkansas this year by state regulators.

Another task force member, David Hundley, represents Ozark Mountain Poultry in Rogers. The company has a fast-growing poultry operation in Northeast Arkansas. "It's not just bad; it's toxic," Hundley, who manages grain production for Ozark Mountain Poultry, said of the dicamba herbicide at the June 20 Plant Board meeting.

The company has been a frequent and vocal opponent of Monsanto's dicamba-tolerant crops, saying they threaten the livelihoods of other farmers, limit those farmers' choices on what to plant and force others into planting the Monsanto crops. Ozark Mountain Poultry pays premium prices to farmers for soybeans that are not genetically modified organisms, as part of Ozark Mountain Poultry's business strategy of raising poultry that hasn't been raised on GMO feed. The company once bought 100 percent of its grain from Arkansas farmers; that percentage will be down to 50 percent next year, Hundley has said.

The Plant Board and state lawmakers began debate on a possible ban in mid-June as the number of those complaints of alleged dicamba damage approached 200.

17.08.2017

Nearly 900 farmers complain about controversial herbicide dicamba

MORRILTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- If you find soybeans are harder to find, many fingers will be pointed at dicamba. It's a herbicide that farmers haven't been able to use legally until this year, but already it's banned.

Governor Asa Hutchinson directed a task force to look into its long term effects.

"Dicamba is creating controversy in the largest industry in our state," said Adriane Barnes, Director of Communications for the Arkansas Agriculture Department.

It's creating controversy because some farmers love it, while others say its ruining their crops.

"We can’t use the technology safely with the issues at hand," said farmer and task force member, David Wildy.

17.08.2017

Collusion Or Coincidence? Records Show EPA Efforts To Slow Herbicide Review Came In Coordination With Monsanto

Newly released government email communications show a persistent effort by multiple officials within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to slow a separate federal agency’s safety review of Monsanto’s top-selling herbicide. Notably, the records demonstrate that the EPA efforts came at the behest of Monsanto, and that EPA officials were helpful enough to keep the chemical giant updated on their progress.

The communications, most of which were obtained through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, show that it was early 2015 when the EPA and Monsanto began working in concert to stall a toxicology review that a unit tied to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was conducting on glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s branded Roundup herbicide products. The details revealed in the documents come as Monsanto is defending itself against lawsuits alleging that it has tried to cover up evidence of harm with its herbicides.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency that along with the CDC is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is charged with evaluating the potential adverse human health effects from exposures to hazardous substances in the environment. So it made sense for the ATSDR to take a look at glyphosate, which is widely used on U.S. farms, residential lawns and gardens, school playgrounds and golf courses. Glyphosate is widely used in food production and glyphosate residues have been found in testing of human urine.

14.08.2017

Cornell Diamondback moth is just another GM failure

Cornell University's plans to release genetically modified (GM) moths in New York State ignore existing evidence of failure, which shows the GM pests will damage the broccoli and cabbages they are supposed to protect.

Diamondback moth caterpillars are agricultural pests which eat brassica crops including cabbages and broccoli. Cornell plans multiple experimental releases of up to 30,000 GM male moths a week, over a two year period, at its New York State Agricultural Experiment Station (NYSAES). The GM diamondback moths are produced by UK-headquartered company Oxitec, which was bought by Intrexon, Inc. for 160 million US dollars in 2015, despite its lack of revenue and commercial products.

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"Cornell's plans to release these GM moths ignore the only published scientific evidence about them, which shows that significant crop damage will occur" said Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK.